11/13/20 – USA ties Wales, vs Panama Mon – 2:45 pm on FS1, Nations League Sat/Sun/Tues, MLS Playoffs start next weekend

Games to Watch this Weekend

Nations league play – this weekend and only 3 games on normal TV – unfortunately.   Sunday England plays Belgium on ESPN2 at 2:45 pm with England in a must win or they are out for the final.  Saturday former European Champs Portugal hosts France in a must win game at 2:45 pm on ESPN+.  Sunday the battle in group 1 between Poland, Italy, Netherlands all battle for the top spot with games on ESPN+ at 2:45 its Poland vs Italy.  Finally Croatia hosts Portugal at 2:45 pm on ESPN Tuesday.  Great games in Nations League to go along with the US vs Panama game on Monday at 2:45 pm on FS1.

US Ties @ Wales 0-0 

So what an exciting start for the youngsters of the US in their  0-0 tie with Wales.  Lets start with the positives.  This team attacked, they pressed and they maintained possession for 65% of the time, especially in the 1st half. The game was played on Wales half of the field – with the occasional counter attack.  But the US set the pace and controlled possession.  Now with control of the ball – the final 3rd communication was suspect and we only broke thru a couple of times.  We did not have a #9 tonight – not sure why Greg didn’t play one of the actual forward youngsters Soto or Gioacchini – but his use of Lleggett as a false 9 did not work.  Imagine that.  Greg does love his MLS guys.  Listen I like Lleggett he plays like an old school American – no skills all heart.  But as a #9 – he missed no fewer than 4 chances that were perfectly crossed because he was NO WHERE to be found.  He is not a forward and Greg was crazy to try it.  Hopefully he’ll send Leggett back to the US for game 2.  We have kids to see – I don’t need to see a US MLS hacker playing out of position.  Again with a healthy Josh Sargent you would have liked to see him up top to show he could do something.  But unless Soto or Gioachini get a chance up top – Altidore is still your only #9 in the US pool. 

I thought Dest was a god at right back and along with Adams and McKinney the best players on the field.  Adams and McKinney are darn near world class players now at the 6 and 8 spots and Dest should flair, solid attack and good defense at right back.  He is our best outside back – either side.  Gio Reyna had his moments but did not look comfortable in the #10 role he was handed – a winger for Dortmund – I thought he looked ok – but not great in his first start in a US Shirt.  Yunus Musa certainly showed he can move with the ball as he had some really flashy moments and good possession at times in the midfield.  Again not sure he’s not more suited at the wing like he plays for Valencia – but at 17 years old – he did not look out of place with the big boys.   Konrad started and had his chance to make a statement for the Barcelona man – but he launched the best US chance over net from 5 feet out in the first.  Overall he was good – but won’t displace Pulisic if he ever actually stays healthy enough to play. 

I thought the defense was solid – Dest has improved his defense to go along with his attacking flair on the right.  Brooks was sto in the middle and held things together and distributed really really well from the back.  I thought Miazga was ok at right center back – good distribution – but was just a 5 or so overall.  Want to see Richards there on Monday with Brooks hopefully.  On the left back– Robinson was ok – but the Fulham man definitely showed he was the weak link back there.  I wouldn’t mind seeing Dest on the left and give Reggie Cannon a run on right next game.  Overall I think the young core of the US team looked pretty good. I give them a 7 overall.  They should have had more shots to match the overwhelming time of possession but overall I think they outplayed Wales on the road (would have been interesting to see Pulisic on the wing for the US in this game).  Can’t wait to see some changes for game 2 on Monday vs a Panama team we should beat.  But, Overall a good show and an exciting time to be a US fan again.  I truly believe our U23 team with all of our guys playing the Adams, McKinney, Pulisic, Dest, Richards, Sargent, Reyna, Konrad could make a run to the semis at least – they are that good.  We are going to be good – not sure in time for 2022 – but after that – look out – I truly believe our golden generation might finally be arriving.  Next Up USA vs Panama – Monday 2:30 pm on Fox Sports 1. 

My thoughts for the Panama game start

My 11

Gioacchini or Ledezma

Llanez, Reyna, Yunus Musah

Adams, McKinney

Dest, Tim Ream, Richards, Cannon

Horvath

The USMNT roster

GOALKEEPERS (3): Ethan Horvath (Club Brugge), Chituru Odunze (Leicester City), Zack Steffen (Manchester City)

DEFENDERS (7): John Brooks (Wolfsburg), Reggie Cannon (Boavista FC), Sergiño Dest (Barcelona), Matt Miazga (Anderlecht), Tim Ream (Fulham), Chris Richards (Bayern Munich), Antonee Robinson (Fulham)

MIDFIELDERS (6): Tyler Adams (RB Leipzig), Johnny Cardoso (Internacional), Richard Ledezma (PSV Eindhoven), Weston McKennie (Juventus), Yunus Musah (Valencia), Owen Otasowie (Wolverhampton)

FORWARDS (8): Konrad de la Fuente (Barcelona), Nicholas Gioacchini (Caen), Christian Pulisic (Chelsea), Uly Llanez (Heerenveen), Gio Reyna (Borussia Dortmund), Josh Sargent (Werder Bremen), Sebastian Soto (Telstar), Tim Weah (Lille),

Who Are the New Guys- from

There’s a bunch! Let’s meet them:

FW: Niko Gioacchini: A 20-year-old true center forward who plays for Caen in Ligue 2. He’s rugged and strong, does good work holding up the ball and runs a lot. He reminds me a lot of Vancouver’s Lucas Cavallini. And like Cavallini at the same age, he needs to refine his goalscoring instincts. But the raw materials are good and he’s getting real minutes and scoring fairly consistently in a pretty good league at a young age.

FW: Sebastian Soto: Another 20-year-old center forward, Soto started for the US U-20s at last year’s World Cup and made news recently by flirting with accepting a call-up from Chile. He basically lost a year of development by not playing because of his club situation, but is now scoring goals for fun in the Dutch second tier while on loan to Telstar from Norwich City. He looks stronger than he did 18 months ago, but is still kind of a lightweight. He’s also much more of a poacher than a target man.

W: Gio Reyna: You know who Gio Reyna is and what he does by now, right?

W: Konrad de la Fuente: Konrad was, like Soto, a part of that U-20 team last year. Unlike Soto he struggled badly, to the point where you could question what his immediate future was. It turns out his immediate future was significant improvement with Barcelona, to the point that he’s now made the gameday squad a couple of times (but has yet to debut) for the full first team. And he’s still just 19.  He’s very right-footed and has looked much more comfortable playing inverted than as a traditional winger, as he did for Tab Ramos and the US U-20s last year.

AM: Richy Ledezma: That U-20 team was stocked, is what I’m saying. Ledezma didn’t get to show his whole range of skills since he was recovering from an injury and didn’t play much, but when he got on the field — especially against France — he was a dynamic, game-breaking No. 10. He just glides both on and off the ball, and has the ability to finish plays either by scoring or by finding the last pass.

He has not yet broken through for PSV into the regular first-team rotation (he just made his debut last week) because 1) he is too right-footed, which causes him major problems, and 2) his reactions in transition defense are poor.  I still have a lot of Richy Ledezma stock, though.

CM: Yunus Musah: The youngest member of the roster, as he was born 16 days after Reyna in 2002, Musuah’s also a surprise inclusion. He’s a tri-national who had mostly represented England in the youth national team ranks, and the US had to push to get him. They pushed hard, and they got him — at least for this camp. Nothing that happens over the next week can cap-tie him, remember.

Musah, who was born in NYC and came through the Arsenal academy system, is starting for Valencia in La Liga mostly as a right midfielder though sometimes as a right winger. Consensus seems to be that his future is more likely to be as a box-to-box No. 8, and Berhalter explicitly compared him to McKennie, so I don’t think there’s too much tea-reading necessary to figure out where he’s going to play in this camp.

DM: Johnny Cardoso: Or just “Johnny,” actually, for the New Jersey-born but Brazil-raised 19-year-old, who is already a regular with Internacional of Porto Alegre. That’s one of Brazil’s biggest clubs, and that means he’s already played a bunch both in Brazil’s top flight and in the Copa Libertadores. Johnny lacks a bit of defensive bite but I think he should be right at home in the “drop between the defenders and orchestrate from deep” role.

DM: Owen Otasowie: A giant 19-year-old defensive midfielder (who might actually fancy himself as more of a No. 8) who was born in NYC and has spent the past couple of years with the Wolves academy and in their youth ranks. He’s made one first-team appearance, back in last year’s Europa League, but hasn’t been seen or heard from with the first team since then. Otasowie’s also played some center back, both for some of the Wolves youth teams and the US U-18s. I hope that’s his long-term position.

CB: Chris Richards: Ok, back to last year’s U-20s. Richards was the rock in the center of that defense, and arguably the best prospect on that team (though obviously there are cases to be made for others, with Dest being the most obvious). He is big, strong and fast — probably an A- overall athlete — and a very good-to-great distributor of the ball (though opinions from people I respect vary on that). When he made his debut for Bayern Munich’s first team earlier this year he played as a right back. I’ll go ahead and guess that fewer than 3 percent of his total minutes for the USMNT, no matter how many he eventually accrues, will come at that spot. He is a pure center back here.

GK: Chituru Odunze: I am not going to give you a scouting report on the third-string goalkeeper. Just know that he is huge, he is from Raleigh, he is a US-Canadian dual-national and he’s with Leicester City playing in the youth ranks these days.

GAMES ON TV

Sat,  Nov 14                         Europes Nations League

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Portugal vs France

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Spain vs Switzerland

2:45 pm ESPN+                    Ukraine vs Germany

Sun,  Nov 15

9 qm ESPN+                         Scotland vs Slovakia

12 noon   ESPN+                  Ireland vs Wales 

2:45 pm  ESPN2                  England vs Belgium

2: 45 pm ESPN +                  Poland vs Italy

2: 45 pm ESPN +                  Iceland vs Denmark

Mon, Nov 16

2:45 pm FS1                USA vs Panama

Tues, Nov 17 

2:45 pm ESPN2                   Croatia vs Portugal

2:45 pm ESPN+                   Spain vs Germany

2:45 pm ESPN+                    France vs Sweden 

USA
USMNT player ratings v. Wales

YoWhat year is it? USMNT hopeful about future  Leander Schaerlaeckens »
U.S.’s young stars showed their European club pedigree vs. Wales 
Jeff Carlisle ESPNFC

Berhalter: ‘Ton of quality’ from U.S. in Wales draw

US Player Ratings: The kids are alright in draw vs. Wales November 12, 2020

Boehm: Three takeaways from USMNT’s draw with Wales November 12, 2020
Takeaways from US entertaing Stalemate vs Wales – Doug McIntre Yahoo Sooccer
Brave USMNT youngsters show glimpse of ‘exciting future’
Young USMNT shows edge, lacks finish in Wales draw
Berhalter thrilled when McKennie ‘flips a switch’; Pulisic the missing piece v. Wales
U.S. men’s soccer team offers hope for the future in 0-0 draw with Wales
Reyna follows dad, mom, among 6 debuts as US ties Wales 0-0

Young USMNT shows edge, lacks finish in Wales draw
Gio Reyna makes US soccer debut, a day before 18th birthday

 Stories Leading into Thursdays Game

 

Pulisic leaving U.S. camp, Reyna set for debut  Jeff Carlisle

The USMNT Picks Up the Pieces After a Long Time Away BY BRIAN STRAUS
How USMNT Call-Ups Fared in Their Final Pre-Camp Games  BY AVI CREDITOR
How USMNT’s November Camp Pieces May All Fit Together BY AVI CREDITOR


How USMNT prospect Johnny Cardoso will complement Pulisic and Reyna in midfield
 
Tim Vickery
Future of USMNT brighter than Mexico – Saucedo
 
Tom Marshall

The Weston McKinney Story – Gaurdian

Discussion with Serginio Dest of Barcelona
John Brooks and his Importance to this US Team
What Veterans Day means to three USMNT players and the recent history of the program
Howard reflects on PL career, Pulisic’s big chance

 Nations League 

Nations League W2W4: Heavyweight clashes as COVID and injuries take toll
What to look out for in Nations League finale
Rashford, Coady to miss England’s Nations League ties
‘This time we didn’t let them down’: Scotland end wait to reach major finals

Scotland qualify for Euro 2020 to end long wait as North Macedonia make history

EURO 2020: Scotland qualifies after crazy finish with Serbia


‘Our dream came true’ says North Macedonia after winning Euro 2020 place

European Championships & Nations League

Elsewhere, players are absent after testing positive for Covid-19, among them Eden Hazard, who is set to miss Belgium’s games with England and Denmark.Niklas Suele, Kai Havertz and Emre Can are missing for Germany, while Edin Dzeko is out for Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Wissam Ben Yedder for France.nd it’s not just the players: Italy coach Roberto Mancini also had to go into quarantine after contracting the virus.

Then there are the injuries, with players struggling to keep up with the demands of a packed schedule.

England’s Liverpool defender Joe Gomez this week succumbed to a serious knee injury. Spain’s Ansu Fati and Germany’s Joshua Kimmich also suffered knee injuries just before this international break.

– Will holders Portugal reach finals? –

The winners of the four groups in League A will advance to the finals, which UEFA has pencilled in for October next year.

Portugal are the holders after winning the inaugural edition on home soil in 2019, and the reigning European champions face World Cup holders France in Lisbon on Saturday in a crunch game — whoever wins will be through to the finals, while a draw keeps things alive until the final Group 3 matches on Tuesday.

Poland, Italy and the Netherlands are all fighting it out in Group 1, while Belgium are in pole position in Group 2 and can knock out England with a win in Leuven on Sunday. Denmark are still in contention in that group too.

In Group 4, just one point separates Spain, Germany and Ukraine with two rounds left. It could all come down to Spain’s clash with Germany in Seville on Tuesday.

– Scotland, Wales to join elite? –

Hot on the heels of their penalty shoot-out win over Serbia which secured qualification for Euro 2020, a rejuvenated Scotland can clinch promotion to the elite League A.Steve Clarke’s side currently top League B, Group 2 by four points from the Czech Republic. A win in Slovakia on Sunday will therefore do the job, otherwise they have another chance to secure top spot in Israel on Wednesday.Wales are hoping to secure first place in League B, Group 4, with a one-point lead over Finland and home games against the Republic of Ireland and the Finns to come.

– World Cup incentive –

While the likes of Scotland and North Macedonia qualified for Euro 2020 after coming through play-offs based on performance in the last Nations League, there is an added incentive in this edition related to the 2022 World Cup.

Qualifying for Qatar 2022 will start in March, with 10 group winners advancing to the finals.

The 10 runners-up will go into the play-offs, where they will be joined by the best two Nations League group winners (based on overall rankings) who did not directly qualify or reach the play-offs.

A total of three World Cup spots will be available through the play-offs, so Qatar remains a long way off, but this is still an extra reason for the likes of Scotland, Wales and others to top their Nations League groups.

Three things we learned from USMNT’s draw with Wales

Andy Edwards  Thu, November 12, 2020, 4:48 PM EST

Wales – USMNT: So what if the U.S. men’s national team played a very young Wales side to a mostly dull scoreless draw in Swansea on Thursday?The (not-so-) Baby Yanks were far and away the better side, but more importantly every returning player showed signs of individual progress made in 2020.Here are three things we learned about Gregg Berhalter’s side on a rainy night in south Wales…

The great thing about kids is, they eventually grow up

It had been so long — 285 days, to be exact — since we saw the USMNT and its promising generation of youngsters that some of them almost seemed unrecognizable with another year of life’s experiences under their belts. For all of the excitement around the “potential” of this group, everything still hinges upon continued development and reaching said potential. It can be difficult to see improvement with regular exposure, but the last nine months have afforded us an opportunity to look at these players in a very clear before-and-after light, so the question is this: Who has grown up the most since we last saw them in the red, white and blue?

  • Sergiño Dest — Aside from simply looking the part of a 20-year-old professional at arguably the world’s biggest club, Dest now appears to have a far greater understanding of where he’s supposed to be at all times, and when he can (or can’t) take a chance on either side of the ball.
  • John Brooks — This is a bit of a different one with Brooks ascending to another level as he enters his late-20s, but Brooks appears to have done a complete 180 from previous USMNT appearances. More on him in a moment.
  • Weston McKennie — For 45 minutes, McKennie was everywhere, in everything, bothering everyone. It was a far cry from the “never stop running while never actually arriving anywhere” maximum-effort approach of caps gone by. McKennie was more active than ever before, but with purpose and a tangible impact on the team — taking the ball of attackers, winning important second balls and attempting (and even sometimes completing) aggressive forward passes.

Given the positions they play and the clubs they play for, you can make an easy case that Dest, Brooks and McKennie are three of the five most important players for the USMNT as they tackle the next 24 months leading up to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. The fact they look to be the most improved individuals of the last 9-12 months should be a very comforting sign of things to come.

More USMNT news

VIDEO: The good and the bad from Wales 0-0 USMNT Brave USMNT youngsters show glimpse of ‘exciting future’ Berhalter thrilled when McKennie ‘flips a switch’; Pulisic the…

[ MORE: Berhalter thrilled when McKennie “flips a switch” ]

John Brooks has taken ownership of the defense

Wales managed to take all of four — yes, four — shots in this game, so this isn’t so much an assessment of Brooks, ball-winning defender, as it is about Brooks, ball-playing defender.

As we’ll discuss in another brief moment, the USMNT struggled a fair bit to move the ball from defensive third to middle third, but much more so to move the ball from middle third to final third. In a word, such progression of the ball was nonexistent. It’s nice to have a Plan B, though, and Brooks was very happy to step into the void and play a bunch of ultra-aggressive, line-breaking passes from the backline. On the rare instance the Yanks made their way into the Welsh penalty area, it was typically a direct result of Brooks picking out Konrad de la Fuente or Yunus Musah making an inside run into either channel. While it amounted to very little on Thursday, imagine Brooks playing those same passes in behind with someone else on the receiving end…

Throw in Christian Pulisic, and…

Watching the USMNT run into the glass half-circle around Wales’ defensive third was a never-ending exercise in frustration, but don’t let that discourage you altogether, because yet another youngster — 22-year-old Christian Pulisic — figures to be the missing piece for a team completely devoid of one-on-one attackers. The issue on Thursday wasn’t so much that there wasn’t a natural or recognized striker on the field for 79 minutes — though, it didn’t help — but that the front-four of Gio Reyna, Musah, de la Fuente and Sebastian Lletget are all quite passive on the ball.

Unless they see 20 yards of open space in front of them, everyone is looking to make the pass to someone in a better position. When Pulisic gets on the ball, whether in traffic or open space, he’s almost always going to carry it forward and create that open space for someone else by drawing defenders toward him. Without that player against Wales, the USMNT was slow at its best, and completely static at its worst.

U.S.’s young stars European club pedigree was visible at international level vs. Wales

6:36 PM ETJeff CarlisleU.S. soccer correspondent

In the 285 days since the U.S. men’s national team previously played, it seemed there was a sea change for the Americans. The U.S. now has a player at Juventus in Weston McKennie, while Sergino Dest and Konrad de la Fuente are on the first-team roster at Barcelona. That’s to go along with Christian Pulisic at Chelsea and Tyler Adams at UEFA Champions League semifinalists RB Leipzig.

With that kind of pedigree in its ranks, and youngsters like Borussia Dortmund‘s Giovanni Reyna and Valencia‘s Yunus Musah breaking through, expectations have been raised considerably, even as manager Gregg Berhalter tries to downplay them.Which is why Thursday’s 0-0 draw against host Wales felt like a different kind of result on European soil. A look at the score and one would think that this was another one of those gritty, grind-it-out draws on the road, but it was nothing of the sort. The U.S. showed the kind of calmness and patience on the ball that has been rare in its trips to Europe. Playing out of tight spaces was the rule rather than the exception, with the three-man midfield of McKennie, Adams and Musah doing plenty to control the game’s tempo.

Musah — one of six U.S players to make their debut — looked nothing like a 17-year-old, and while there were moments when he could have released the ball quicker, he showed plenty of ability in terms of running at defenses as well as vision. Given that Musah is eligible to represent England and Ghana as well as the U.S., Berhalter can only hope that he ultimately chooses to represent the U.S. over other contenders.

Reyna found the going a bit tougher, and at times was even guiltier of hanging onto the ball too long. He had some dynamic moments running with the ball, but also let his frustrations get the better of him. Midway through the second half, he barged into Wales defender Tom Lockyer in retaliation for what he perceived as a foul that went uncalled. It’s precisely the kind of play that on the road in CONCACAF could be punished severely. Still, it was a day the 17-year-old Reyna will long remember.As for Adams, the match was not only his first for the U.S. in 20 months, but one in which he anchored the U.S. midfield after Berhalter had dabbled with playing him at right-back. The American side looked better for having Adams’ energy and passing in front of the defense, although John Brooks in particular looked composed in the back.”I felt good because I think that’s my natural position,” Adams said. “Being out there, being able to kind of command everything that was going on in front of me, tell players when to go and when not to go, to initiate the press, when to stay back, it allows me to lead the team in a better way, I think. I was confident in the guys in front of me understanding the tactics so it made my job a little bit easier, but I love being the cover in front of the back line being able to win balls and then just give it to the guys in front of me and let them do their thing.”The U.S. was also extremely effective in its press, and the Americans’ two best chances of the night came directly off turnovers in Wales’ defensive third, although it should be noted that this was a Welsh side missing several key players, including Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, while Ben Davies and Ethan Ampadu remained on the bench.

Yet for all of the possession that the U.S. had, there was a distinct lack of punch in the attacking third. Some of this was down to Berhalter’s decision to play Sebastian Lletget as a false nine, but it’s important to drill deeper on how the approach fared. In terms of providing an outlet and allowing the U.S. to play out of its own half, Lletget did well, completing 28 of his 32 passes. On the one hand, this is precisely what Berhalter wanted Lletget to do. But farther up field, the tactic wasn’t as successful, although that wasn’t down to just the player.”We wanted him to look for the third man more than he did,” Berhalter said about Lletget. “I think he did it once or twice, but as he comes down and it needs to be laid off, and then we should be moving behind, I think the wingers weren’t in a high-enough position to take advantage of that at times. That was something that we missed.”McKennie added that the U.S. was a bit beholden to looking for combination play rather than the run in behind the defense, something that the injured Pulisic would have helped with.”A one-on-one type of player that can beat the defender, and get down the side and play a ball in or cross it, that’s something [Pulisic] has done many times, as you saw in Gold Cup as well,” McKennie said. “I think the dynamic movement in behind the line was something that we were missing. And that’s something that we’ll obviously look at in the video, just to see how many runs we made in behind the line to open up the space and just make that unselfish run.”It has to be said that this is a group that still needs time to develop chemistry. In addition to the lengthy hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. had just two days of training — and just one full session — prior to this match. But the question still remains: Who will get the goals and provide that presence in the box to draw more attention from opposition center-backs? For that reason — and with Josh Sargent unavailable due to COVID-19 quarantine restrictions — it might have made more sense to get Nicholas Gioacchini on earlier or give Sebastian Soto his debut, although there is still another game to play against Panama on Monday. The forward depth chart has long been thin, and there are scant opportunities to see what the current group of forwards can do.

That said, the foundation of possession and pressing is one that looks a bit more ingrained in the players. Given the state of the game amid a pandemic, that is largely down to the progress U.S. performers have made at club level. But Berhalter will nonetheless be pleased that he has more to work with, and the Wales match counts as a step forward.

USMNT Player Ratings: Sergino Dest, Tyler Adams stand out in scoreless draw at Wales

November 12, 20206:33PM ESTGreg SeltzerContributor

After more than nine months out of action, the US men’s national team got back on the field with a very green lineup that handled themselves admirably in a scoreless draw at Wales.The kids’ pressure game had them verging on dominant in the opening frame, with only a bit of immaturity in the final third holding them back. They looked a lot more pedestrian after halftime, which shaved hairs of the marks you see below.

United States Player Ratings

Zack Steffen (6.5) — On the plus side, his save just past the hour was the biggest of the game. On the other hand, we saw another ill-advised bit of distribution that could have gone horribly wrong.

Sergiño Dest (7) — The Barcelona right back’s near constant push up the flank repeatedly put Wales into scrambling situations, and a couple of his deliveries into the box deserved better pursuit.

Matt Miazga (7) — While the Anderlecht man ably handled all comers to the US defensive third, what most caught the eye about Miazga’s outing was arguably his best night of passing out of the back in a US shirt. He wasn’t breaking lines, he was flat out erasing them.

John Brooks (6) — Miazga’s partner also passed positively, as you’d expect him to do, and made a few nice interventions around the US box in the second half. However, he also got burnt on a couple of dicey steps into midfield.

Antonee Robinson (5.5) — The young left back had his moments defensively, but a bad tracking lapse granted Wales their best chance of the night. Robinson was functional going forward without ever finding room for one of his fine crosses.

Tyler Adams (7) — The RB Leipzig gatekeeper was routinely stepped in to halt any Welsh ideas of a rush up the gut, especially in the first half. Adams also showed the maturity in his transition passing game on a few occasions.

Weston McKennie (6.5) — It was an excellent first half from the Juventus midfielder. McKennie was routinely available for the ball, and though not all of his passes came off, he drove play and served the best low cross of the night. His rating dropped a shade after the break, when he kept fanning out wide, which is not where his strength lies.

Yunus Musah (6.5) — The teen debutant impressed enough that one could easily see the possibilities of his talent. Musah excelled as a fast conduit through the middle, both on the dribble and with prompt passing decisions, and was a dogged nuisance when it came time to win the ball back. He also found some good positions in attack, but flubbed a few lines there.

Highlights: Wales 0, United States 0

Giovanni Reyna (5) — Another teenager getting his first cap, Reyna was a bit underwhelming on this night. Whenever he got the ball, his “processing speed” was unusually slow. This caused him to get his pocket picked from behind more than you’d like, and kept him from finding a killer pass around the Wales area.

Sebastian Lletget (5) — Horribly miscast as a center forward, Lletget looked like a guy horribly miscast as a center forward. A proper striker probably would have demonstrated more killer instinct on a couple of crosses into the money zone. There’s not much else to say, but he did serve a few tempting restarts.

Konrad de la Fuente (4.5) — For me, the teenager simply doesn’t look like he’s ready for this level. The Barcelona prospect never challenged defenders and he fired wildly over when presented with a gift of a golden chance.

Coach Gregg Berhalter (5.5) — Let’s start with the good stuff. Despite having a highly inexperienced squad that needed a lot of introductions before the game, they came out executing both the press and the resulting fast build game like it was a familiar routine. That is not an easy thing to do, and Berhalter deserves kudos on that point.

On the other hand, few things grind my gears more than ruining the formation by going without a real center forward when three of them are available. And the fact that the boss kept Lletget leading the line until the 79th minute when it was obviously hampering a game plan that looked great until it was time to strike is downright annoying. Big red mark for that. Let’s not do that again.

Substitutes

Johnny Cardoso (6) — Though a few passes could have been shrewder, the defensive midfield debutant quickly showed that he’s got a handle on his primary function. A “stick in the spokes” reach foiled Wales at the door the US area, and then he committed a well-chosen professional foul to cut short a potential counter.

Ulysses Llanez (6) — The young winger wasted no time looking to goal, forcing a decent save with a long-range drive. Aside from that, not much to report from his 19 minutes.

Timothy Weah (-) — Working 11 minutes will typically get one a grade here, but Weah never got an offensive touch. His biggest impact came tracking back to harass a Welsh ball carrier.

Nicholas Gioacchini (-) — See Weah above.

Owen Otawosie (-) — A mere cameo for the teen midfielder on his debut.

Reggie Cannon (-) — In just three minutes, the Boavista right back was more involved than the three guys directly above him combined. As you’d expect, he looked solid.

Three takeaways from US men’s national team’s 0-0 draw with Wales | Charles Boehm

November 12, 20206:30PM ESTCharles BoehmNational Writer

Despite relative paucity of goal danger, the US men’s national team gave us some tasty morsels to chew on in their long-awaited return to play, banking a decent 0-0 draw with Wales at Swansea’s Liberty Stadium on Thursday.Teenagers Konrad de la Fuente, Yunus Musah (sign him up!) and Gio Reyna made their debuts, a bustling central-midfield trio imposed themselves on the home side and the US controlled the tempo, if not the scoreboard. Here are a few other observations.

Engine room humming

As promised, Gregg Berhalter trotted out a front-foot 4-3-3, and as promised, Musah took up a central position, working alongside Weston McKennie in an FC Dallas-esque “twin No. 8s” setup backed by Tyler Adams at the 6. And verily, it was good.Showing prodigious range and bite, the troika asserted their dominance in the center of the park, looking eager to embrace Berhalter’s more assertive pressing approach. Their energy pushed Wales onto the back foot and made sure that the USMNT had plenty of the ball, tilting the possession battle 61-39 in their favor (and in the early stages it was even more one-sided than that).This didn’t solve the issues in the attacking third, but it certainly gave the Yanks a stable platform upon which to build further, and hinted at a fittingly aggressive identity in the bigger picture.

Sugar and spice

It wasn’t all blood, guts and destruction. Both the aforementioned central trio and several others, Sergino Dest in particular, were downright Brazilian in their displays of flair and swagger, squeezing in feints, dragbacks, stepovers and even an elastico at every opportunity.Of course it all needed to be capped by a firm finish or two to earn a victory. Still, given the grim cloud of frustration and opprobrium that’s hung over the program since the nightmarish finale to 2018 World Cup qualifying in Couva, it was extremely heartening to see a youthful group infused with such joy and creativity, and the beginnings of a real understanding – to borrow a term coined by McKennie, “comfortability” with one another.“You know, a footballer can recognize someone that can play football,” added McKennie. “I can recognize what someone’s good at, what someone’s not good at. And I think we all know that we like to play. We like to combine, like to make those small touches and small passes.”“In the past we didn’t so much have the little flair, the tiki-taka type, I guess, of playing … So it was just fun. I think a lot of guys had fun being out there.”t’s been far too long since this program took pride in themselves as not merely a hard-working side defending the colors, but an entertainment product, and a spicy one at that. When Dest nutmegged Dan James with a very extra, and mostly unnecessary, snake along the touchlines, it hinted at a brave new world, one that most USMNT fans will want to see a whole lot more of.

Number 9, number 9, number 9…

On first blush, Berhalter probably bears as much responsibility as anyone for the goose egg, because his deployment of Sebastian Lletget as a false No. 9 didn’t really come off. Postgame the coach explained that the idea was to create numerical advantages in midfield while also forcing the Welsh defense to make tough decisions on the fly.But as smart, selfless and willing as he is, Lletget just doesn’t play this role often, for club or country, and it showed. He looked to be playing catchup in terms of the movements and runs needed to maximize his teammates’ good work once they reached the Wales penalty box, and at that level, something more like autopilot is needed to strike paydirt.COVID-19-related restrictions prevented Josh Sargent from joining the USMNT this month, and he surely would’ve gotten the start otherwise, but it would have been good to see more time given to a true frontrunner like Sebastian Soto or Nicholas Gioacchini, who logged 11-plus minutes off the bench but had little opportunity to show himself.Thursday lends weight to the idea of a call-up for Orlando City’s Daryl Dike, and may lead fans to light a few more candles for Jozy Altidore’s troublesome hamstrings.

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